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RNC Safety Proposal for Charlotte Convention Makes No Mention of Masks, Distancing

May 29, 2020 by Dan McCue
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, speaks during North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's, left, briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

WASHINGTON – A letter outlining the Republican National Committee’s coronavirus safety plan for its upcoming presidential nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, includes several medical checks, but makes no mention of either wearing masks or requirements for social distancing.

The letter, signed by Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel and convention President and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly, was sent to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Thursday night.

It is the latest development in a week-long saga that began when President Donald Trump threatened to relocate the convention if Cooper, a Democrat, restricts attendance at the convention site due to concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It has been estimated that the convention, scheduled for late August could draw as many as 50,000 people to Charlotte.

North Carolina’s Health and Human Services secretary, Mandy Cohen, sent a letter Monday to Kelly asking for the written health safety plans for the event after Trump demanded in a tweet that North Carolina guarantee a full-scale, in-person convention will be held.

Cooper and Cohen later said that they’d discussed various scenarios with convention organizers but wanted a plan in writing.

“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way,” Cooper said on Thursday. “And for weeks and months, the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing the RNC about how to have it in a safe way.”

In their letter, RNC officials complain that they “still do not have solid guidelines from the state and cannot in good faith, ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the Governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the convention.”

“A successful convention per RNC rules requires delegates, alternates, elected officials, guests and media to be in attendance as President Trump is nominated for a second term,” they added.

The RNC’s proposed safety protocols include:

  • Pre-travel health surveys through a partnership with local health care providers;
  • Daily health questionnaires delivered via an app;
  • Thermal scans of all mandatory attendees before they board “sanitized, pre-arranged transportation”; and
  • Wide availability of hand sanitizer with “aggressive” sanitizing of communal areas;

The party organizers also state that the Charlotte Convention Center will serve as “a mandatory hub for a final health care screening by health care officials.”

Onsite:

  • All attendees will have to pass a health check before entering the convention arena; and
  • Media suites and hospitality areas subject to food-service cleanings;

Significantly, the letter makes no mention of face masks or social distancing.

The Republican officials have asked that Cooper approve the proposed guidelines, and say that “if there are any additional guidelines to what is outlined above that we will be expected to meet, [Cooper will] need to let us know by Wednesday, June 3. Time is of the essence.”

Prior to receiving the GOP letter, Cooper told reporters at a briefing that his administration isn’t playing politics with the convention and said he required a similar written plan from NASCAR ahead of its recent race in the Charlotte area that was held without fans.

He said he’s in similar discussions with sports teams including Charlotte’s NFL and NBA teams.

Asked about Trump’s demand on Tuesday for an answer within a week, Cooper told reporters: “We’re not on any timeline here.”

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